I remember when I heard about Facebook for the first time. Back then, in 2008, it seemed so new and fun – you could chat with your friends, upload photos, and meet new people. What else could a young adult dream about? I immediately made myself an account and started to enjoy it.
The initial goal of this social network was to help people connect with each other. Pretty wonderful mission, isn’t it?
Now, 13 years later, the role of Facebook and other social media giants has changed dramatically. They have ceased to be just online communities where you could chat with your fellows and make acquaintances.
They have grown to gain a political and social power that the leaders of the past could only dream about. Let’s explore a few examples that demonstrate that social media giants took over world power.
If you’ve been following my site for a while, you know that I never touch political topics. However, I have no choice but to refer to one example from political life.
Remember the Capitol Hill riot in January 2021? And how Donald Trump’s Facebook and Twitter accounts were blocked in the blink of an eye?
Regardless of what your opinion about Trump is, forget about your political position for a moment and think about the essence of this incident.
Social media sites blocked a country’s leader’s account. I support no one and have no interest in keeping up with political events, but when I heard about it, I was shocked.
Basically, people behind Facebook and Twitter – people who were never given the right to determine the course of political events and were never voted for – turned out to have more power than an elected U.S. president.
Isn’t it scary?
When it comes to censorship, social media’s power is even more frightening. In essence, people who pull the strings of the social media giants have found themselves enjoying the absolute right to define what information is correct and what is false.
We are so lucky that social media didn’t exist during the time of the dictatorial regimes of the past that had rigid censorship systems and persecuted people who didn’t conform to the official ideology. Hitler could only dream about having this kind of power.
Let me refer to another event that affects everyone in the world on so many levels – the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not so long ago, Facebook updated its guidelines regarding the content related to the pandemic. The list contains many different types of prohibited publications, but let’s explore a couple of examples:
Claims that wearing a face mask can make the wearer sick
Essentially, Facebook prohibits even mentioning that wearing a mask has side effects. But the joke is that even WHO admits that these side effects are very real.
A year ago, the organization published a guide to using face masks during the pandemic, which contains a list of 11 potential harms/disadvantages of the use of masks by healthy people.
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people
So what do we do with the official statistics that clearly demonstrate how many deaths and serious side effects there were as a result of the vaccination? Should we pretend like they don’t exist?
Obviously, social media wants us to see only one side of the story. The only correct point of view has already been chosen for us, and we should blindly follow it and forget about critical thinking.
All this reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984.
You may say that all this is done with good intentions and for our safety, but let me tell you one more thing. While having rigid censorship regarding the pandemic, social media turns a blind eye to some really harmful information.
As a result of the global hype around cryptocurrencies, numerous scams popped up. During the last year, an imaginable number of fraudulent links advertising investments in Chinese crypto have been shared on Facebook.
Moreover, these scam websites also used Facebook ads to attract more visitors. I personally have seen these kinds of ads dozens of times for the last few months.
So, it looks like you can easily share and promote a scam to fool as many people as you wish, but you can’t talk about the side effects of face masks…
Now, that’s some good food for thought.
Let me ask you something. What if you checked your smartphone or laptop tomorrow morning just to find that all popular social media networks are gone? No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. How would you feel?
I don’t know about you, but many people would feel totally devastated. All their profiles would be gone, with all those nice photos, status updates, likes, and comments.
How would they fill their free time during lunch breaks and evenings after work? What would they do instead of scrolling the Facebook feed and checking on the latest photos from their favorite Instagram influencer?
These habits have become an essential part of our daily lives. For many people, checking their social media feeds is the first thing to do in the morning and the last thing to do before falling asleep.
Social media networks have turned our natural psychological need for approval into an ugly, unhealthy addiction.
I’m talking about this urge to share something or upload a new selfie just to see other people’s reactions. How many likes will the post get? Will there be comments too? Will people like my new outfit?
The limitless possibilities of social media have led us to the mental prison of constant approval-seeking. And the worst part is that we can no longer live without all this, which means that first of all, social media giants have limitless power over each one of us.
Social media evokes the baser instincts and selfish impulses in us – the need to show off, be superior, and feel good about yourself by putting others down.
I don’t know about you, but for the last year, I have had a persistent feeling that we live in some kind of dystopian society – like those we’ve seen in sci-fi movies. It feels like the gloomy future science fiction authors warned us about is already here.
The political and social power of those people who pull the strings of the social media giants is practically limitless. I don’t know who put them in charge, but today, they have the biggest impact on society all over the world.
And as long as we stay in this mental prison of approval-seeking and blindly consume information without analyzing it, this power will only grow.